CONCORD, N.C. — Lightning in the sky and a vicious rainstorm that never came down could not put a damper on the the next generation of racing stars Tuesday night, as the 23rd season of the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series kicked off with seven divisions of Legend Car and Bandolero racing on the frontstretch quarter-mile at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In the headlining In Light Wellness Legend Car Pro division feature, the action was fast and furious — seeing sparks fly between teammates, four lead changes in the first seven laps and a green-white-checkered finish where Chase Purdy was shuffled to the front of the field in one of the most bizarre turns of events in Shootout history.
Purdy led only the final two laps of the 25-lap main event, but inherited the lead after being scored fourth when the caution flew with two laps to go.
Michael Torres got into the back of teammate and then-race leader Dillon Faggart as the pair raced into turn three, with Faggart going for a long slide through the corner before ultimately spinning out at the exit of the turn. As Torres dropped back under penalty for his role in the caution, assumed race leader Austin Green and new third-place man Stevie Johns were also penalized to the rear of the field — both for rough driving incidents earlier in the race that could not be assessed under a long green flag run through the race’s middle stages.
Regardless, the turnover of the top five put Purdy in the driver’s seat and he did not look back, holding off reigning Pro champion Jordan Black for his first career premier division win and ninth career Shootout victory overall.
“I guess I got pretty lucky with the way that all turned out,” Purdy said with a bemused smile. “Me and (Austin) Green were going at it pretty good there before the caution, and I know he got into me a little bit but that’s just hard racing here at the Shootout. I don’t have anything against that.”
“It all worked out though. We hit the scoring loop and they showed me as the leader, and sent him back (due to the penalty), but that was the craziest thing I think I’ve ever done. I didn’t expect to win and yet we’re standing right here again. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Alex Pacheco, Michael Womack and Green capped the top five.
The hotly contested feature saw polesitter Stevie Johns lead lap one and two, Green top laps three through five and Greg Lang pace lap six before Lang was turned by Johns on lap seven. Green retook the top spot on the eighth round and held it all the way through the halfway point, before Faggart made his move on the inside with seven laps to go and brought Torres with him.
In all, six lead changes between five different drivers marked one of the most competitive Legends Car features in Shootout history. The incident between Torres and Faggart with two laps to go was the only caution of the feature.
The 25-lap Legend Car Masters division was dominated by Robbie Faggart in the closing stages, as Faggart powered away from Carl Cormier down the stretch run for his fifth career Masters win at the Shootout, tying Jeff Green and Brian Weimer for seventh all-time.
Faggart passed polesitter Scott Whitaker in turn one on lap nine and never looked back, pacing the final 16 circuits and outrunning Cormier by .766 of a second at the twin checkers. They were followed by Whitaker, Bruce Silver and Jan Ingram.
The biggest incident in the class was on lap seven, when Jon Craig took a hard shunt into the outside SAFER Barrier on the frontstretch and came to a rapid stop. Craig quickly climbed out uninjured, but his No. 1 Chase Pistone Inc. entry was far less fortunate, sustaining heavy damage that ended Craig’s night after running inside the top five early on.